On paper, Saturday's version of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes (Post time: 4:25pm Eastern; TV: TVG) doesn't appear to possess a ton of big "names" or highly rated three-year-old colts, but as is typically the case with young, developing horses at this time of year - we really don't know what we've got until we see them run. However, to this point in their brief racing careers, the field of the Sam F. Davis has done little of note against stakes-level company. Whether that's a hindrance or an advantage as we head down the path to the 2014 Kentucky Derby is up for debate.
Cousin Stephen nabs morning line favorite status for the Davis of of a dominating maiden score in his second lifetime start and a fifth place finish versus OC/N1X company last time out of the gate. It's not often we see a morning line favorite in a graded stakes race with just a maiden victory and a so-so allowance race to his name, but that's what we've got in this year's Davis. A son of Proud Citizen and trained by Chad Brown, Cousin Stephen is the very tepid morning line choice at odds of 3/1.
The second choice on the morning line is Noble Cornerstone (7/2), a winner in his debut and second by a neck in a minor stakes race at Remington Park in mid-December. I think you could make a pretty strong argument in favor of this gelding as the early chalk given his connections and strong races in his first two starts. On the other hand, is a minor stakes race at Remington a tougher or lighter race than optional claimers at Gulfstream? That's essentially the questions with the top two morning line choices.
One of the more intriguing colts in the Davis field is Asserting Bear, an Ontario-bred colt making his first start outside of Woodbine and his first on a surface other than turf or synthetics. Additionally, Asserting Bear is by far the most experienced runner in the field as he's already raced six times in his career. His only try against stakes competition came in the G2-Summer Stakes back in mid-September where he finished a distant 8th behind the dynamite Canadian filly My Conquestadory.
Two other colts in the field are running on dirt for the first time in their careers: School On a Hill (12/1) and Matador (6/1). School On A Hill broke his maiden at Arlington back in late August and has since done little of note in four more starts. He's turned in several decent works over the Gulfstream main track in the past month so perhaps a move to dirt will wake him up. It better because I'm not sure transferring his non-dirt form will be enough to win this race.
Matador ran in the aforementioned Summer stakes and finished a pretty good 3rd, a little more than three lengths behind the winner and just a head-bob from second. He ran pretty poorly in his most recent start in the Coronation Futurity in mid-November but he didn't get a lot of help that day after encountering a bunch of traffic in the later stages. Like School On a Hill, Matador probably needs to improve on his move to the main track to have a chance to beat this field but, on the other hand, the fact that this field doesn't contain any kind of monster should make it easier to take a chance on a mid-shot price. Additionally, those two bullet works at Palm Meadows are encouraging ahead of his main track debut.
Below are the entries, post position and odds for Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes:
|1||Harpoon||L. Saez||T. Pletcher||4/1|
|2||Noble Cornerstone||K. Desormeaux||W. Ward||7/2|
|3||Imgainethatmom||A. Jaen||M. Yates||15/1|
|4||Vinceremos||E. Prado||T. Pletcher||6/1|
|5||Cousin Stephen||D. Centeno||C. Brown||3/1|
|6||Asserting Bear||J. Rocco, Jr.||R. Baker||9/2|
|7||School On a Hill||R. Allen||W. Catalano||12/1|
|8||Matador||J. Leparoux||M. Casse||6/1|